When I got the text about Prodigy, I put everything on hold and I sat in front of the computer unable to speak while clicking on links hoping it was a mistake. It had to be…but it wasn’t. Two days later, my cousin, Tiff asked why I didn’t post anything about Prodigy. I explained to her that for some reason, I couldn’t. He was definitely on my mind, but the words were MIA until now.
Prodigy and Havoc as Mobb Deep were part of the New York rap era that was influential in shaping my view and my voice of the world. Mobb Deep was one of those groups that had us stuck off the realness because they rapped about our gritty reality. The ruggedness of leather jackets, baggy jeans, hoodies, du-rags, the solitary gold chain swinging from the neck, Timbs and fronts (NOT grills) glistening behind mean mugs that matched the environment we lived in. As the crime rate and drug epidemic began to fall from its peak, the police tactics began to increase. It was a time lush with stories to tell.
Growing up, these bars were life, we done seen it all, and been through it all: the dead bodies, the drug deals that came with the pound (a handshake) and DTs sticking out like sore thumbs and the early raids. Sometimes we trade war stories and show our scars about what we saw and survived. These stories aren’t badges or burdens, but parts of our biography. Sometimes we laugh and shake our heads; sometimes our hearts get heavy and take us to a quiet place. Life really is survival of the fittest.
That era wasn’t all hell on earth, it was also a time where quarter waters were actually a quarter and we used tokens instead of MetroCards. We used to hang out and ate Chico Sticks and see who could blow the biggest bubbles with five-cent Super Bubbles. We sported “X” and “O” necklaces and doorknockers that we bought from Brooklyn Bazaar or the Colosseum. We thought it was a genius idea to go into the hydrant with a shower cap to prevent our hair from getting wet.
Listening to Kid Capri’s Block Party dedicate the first hour to prodigy last Sunday made me it real clear: I will always be stuck. With a few exceptions, I find it hard to relate to these new rappers so I just go back to that gritty ‘90s NY rap because I can’t let go of it.
Mobb Deep (along with other rappers) told our stories that didn’t have any dance moves, nothing bright or light—just the raw uncut. We never wanted to be rappers (except for CD), but we recited those joints like we wrote, produced and arranged them. You couldn’t tell us we weren’t in the studio when the tracks were being made…we probably in the credits somewhere. You feel me?
Today, New York paid it’s respect to a real one. RIP Prodigy.